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10/31 Guy Ritchie tones down his usual guns and gangsters for Rock'n Rolla

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Guy Ritchie tones down his usual guns and gangsters for 'RocknRolla'



R (pervasive strong language, violence, drug use and brief sexuality); 114 min.

Guy Ritchie tried to do something different, really he did.

The director veered from his reliable three G’s — gangsters, gags and gunplay — for 2002’s Swept Away, starring his wife, Madonna. Now Ritchie has reverted to formula. Fortunately, in RocknRolla, he gets the ingredients in the right proportion.

Small-time hoods One Two (300’s Gerard Butler) and Mumbles (Idris Elba of The Wire) are in debt to London crime boss Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson), who has outmaneuvered them in a complex real estate scam. Lenny plans to flip his newly acquired property to Russian mobster Uri (Karel Roden); as a sign of good faith, Uri gives Lenny his favorite painting to hold until the deal is completed. Before that can happen, the painting is stolen right from under Lenny’s nose.

The chief suspect is Lenny’s adopted son Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), a rock ’n’ roll singer whose death has just been reported in the tabloids. Lenny isn’t buying that news — reports of Johnny’s death have been greatly exaggerated in the past — so he and his goon squad enlist Quid’s record producers (Jeremy Piven and Chris Bridges) to track him down. Meanwhile, Uri’s trusted accountant and girlfriend, Stella (Thandie Newton), is fleecing him with the assistance of One Two and Mumbles.

It may sound a little complicated, but RocknRolla is actually easier to follow than Ritchie’s previous crime sprees. It plays a bit like an Elmore Leonard caper transplanted to London, except that Leonard’s characters tend to be just a little bit smarter than Ritchie’s. Only Newton projects any real intelligence as the femme fatale, although Gerard and Elba are a likeable enough pair and Wilkinson has a lot of fun as the blustery kingpin. For the first time, Ritchie shows some restraint with the heavy artillery — and it’s no coincidence that this is the director’s first movie that doesn’t wear out its welcome long before the credits roll.

— Scott Von Doviak, Special to the Star-Telegram

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I had expected it to be more violent and even more raunchy than it was, but it was OK. I'm not a big fan of a lot of blood and violence, particularly when innocent people get in the cross fire. I don't mind the evil ones getting their due. But for me, Gerry made the picture. Maybe it's just me, but without his comedic sense of timing, especially played off of Handsome Bob, the movie would not have had any color to it and oh, that dancing scene with Stella! That boy can move! Gerry did good!


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